No Questions? No thanks.

According to author John Kador, who wrote 201 Best Questions To Ask On Your Interview, “There are great questions and dumb questions and, worst of all, no questions at all.”

I have to say I agree with John. When I interview a candidate, I’m always amazed at those who when asked if they have any questions, just kind of shrug their shoulders and say something like, “No, I think you’ve covered it all.” I can’t help but think either this person did not do their homework, completely lacks imagination, or simply has no interest in this company/position.

Here are some simple do’s and don’ts that will have you looking like an interviewing pro.

Do Your Research

Want to ask great questions that don’t sound like something you pulled off the internet and then read as if from a teleprompter? Then, you’ll want to do your homework. Things to know include:

  • The company history (Founder/Owner, Date Founded, Locations, Competitors, Number of Employees)
  • Information about the industry they are in
  • If they make stuff, what do they make? If they sell stuff, what do they sell? If they provide services, what kind of services?
  • Read and know the job description!

Maybe you know someone who works for this company. Give them a call and see what their experience has been.

I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but I have sat in on interviews where the candidate has literally said, “So what exactly do you guys do?” (This falls into the “dumb question” area by the way.)

Do Ask Questions

The questions you’ll want to ask depend largely on the company and position for which you are applying. However, some general categories can be identified. Try to come up with one or two relevant, well thought-out questions for each category.

Company/Industry Specific Questions

  • “How does one advance in the company?”
  • “What sets you apart from your biggest competitors?” (Do they want to go above and beyond? Find out their biggest competitors and name them specifically.)
  • “What are the main factors that contribute to the success of this company?”

Job Specific Questions

  • “How will my job responsibilities and performance be measured? By whom?”
  • “What are the most important skills and abilities necessary for someone to succeed in this job?”
  • “How often has this opening been filled in the past five years?”  (If it’s a high number, you may want to follow up with, “What were the main reasons for the turnover?”)

Wrap-Up Questions

  • “How soon do you expect to make a decision?”
  • “How will I be notified of your decision?”
  • “If hired, how soon would I be expected to start?”

Note: If the job involves managing/supervising people, include that as a category. You’ll want to know what they expect of their managers.

Don’t Ask Dumb Questions

Educators like to say, “There is no such thing as a stupid question.” When it comes to learning and academic knowledge, this may well be true. When it comes to getting a job…um, not so much.

As a general rule – don’t ask anything you should already know, don’t phrase a question in a negative way or talk negatively about your past employers, jobs, coworkers, or supervisors.

Company/Industry Specific Questions

  • “What do you guys do again?” (If you’ve done your homework, you should know this.)
  • “How long have you been around?” (Ditto…homework people! Don’t tell me the dog ate it.)
  • “I worked for xyz company and their corporate culture was really bad. What’s yours like? (Negative.)

Job Specific Questions

  • “I won’t have to do xyx task, will I?” (Negative again.)
  • “How long is the lunch break?” (Just plain stupid. 😉 )
  • “Do I really have to work weekends?” (Negative, but could be rephrased into, “Tell me about the typical work week/work schedule.”)

Wrap-Up Questions

  • “So if I don’t hear from you guys, what then?” (Sounds defensive and desperate.)
  • “What are my benefits again?” (Kind of conveys a “what’s in it for me” attitude. Maybe ask, “Where can I go to find out more about the company and employment benefits?”)
  • “If I have to start right away, can I get a few days off the following week for xyz event?” (Two words – problem child.)

I’m sure you’re getting the hang of this by now. Remember, not only are they interviewing you, but you are interviewing them too. Do you really want this job if you’re the 6th person in 3 years to take it and all of the others got fired?

The best way to boost your confidence on interview day is to do your homework, be prepared, show interest and enthusiasm, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

One comment on “No Questions? No thanks.

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